Review: Rapha Women’s Detachable Bib Short with Race Chamois

Over the past decade, women’s cycling gear has come a long way and just keeps getting better. Cycling shorts and bib shorts just got better for all cyclists, but especially women, with anatomically-fitted padding to relieve sensitive areas in shorts and bib shorts that look good and feel good.

And thanks to the clever clip that makes nature breaks child’s play, Rapha Removable Bib Shorts has cemented its position as one of the best women’s bib and shorts brands.


Rapha Women's Cycling Shorts

Rapha does many styles of women’s shorts and bibs. Across its range of women’s cycling shorts and bib shorts, the brand offers three pads for everyday riding, all-day riding and racing.

The cushion you get depends on the shorts you buy and the size. In each bib and shorts Rapha offers several sizes of padding, Rapha hopes to optimize the thickness of the foam parts of the padding to best suit the weight of the rider. So they guess the rider’s weight based on their height. XXS-M bib shorts get the smallest pad and L-XL bib shorts get the largest. The cushion footprint does not change with size, just the thickness of the foam layers.

In the women’s removable bib shorts, the Rapha Bibs I tested, the smaller pad is 8mm thick at its thickest part and the larger pad is 11mm at its thickest part. “By offering size-specific foam thicknesses, we can create the perfect connection to the saddle,” said Harry Osborn, Senior Product Designer.

Women’s Comfortable Cycling Shorts

Rapha Women's Cycling Shorts

Photo c. Rapha

I was carrying this bib riding in the gym, gravel riding, road riding and also mountain biking. I loved. I often feel like the best test of a chamois is to get on a trainer because my position is much less dynamic than on the road or trail, which highlights whether the shorts relieve pressure or not .

In some bibs, after about 30 minutes of pedaling, I squirm because I’m uncomfortable in the saddle. With this bib, I was able to ride for over an hour without having to move around to get comfortable.

On the road, my experience was the same. With some shorts, I have to stand and pedal, not because of the terrain, but because my crotch hurts. That didn’t happen in those shorts, whether I was on a local’s epic or training for a century-long journey.

All Rapha women’s chamois have an antibacterial treatment that prevents them from feeling stinky or stale on long rides and multiple rides. The curved shape of the pad matches the curve of a pelvis, so there’s no extra fabric or foam to feel lumpy, and the shorts provide support. Inside the chamois, dual-density foam minimizes pressure while supporting me in the saddle. Rapha uses a softer foam in the front to reduce pressure and a firmer foam under the seat bones. One of the foam layers in the bib is a thin, high-density layer. So I didn’t feel like I was wearing a diaper, and I didn’t feel like I was getting beaten up by the dirt road or the trail below me.

Who needs these bibs?

back clasp closed

open back clasp

Rapha Posts these bibs for “high-paced riding and running”. I would position them for any rider who wants enough padding between her undercarriage and the saddle, but not so much that’s bothersome. You also need to be a rider willing to give the money for a big chamois, either because you ride a lot and cover long distances or because you have a zero tolerance policy on crotch pain.

What makes this one of my favorite pairs of bibs is the self-centering magnetic clasp that allows me to slide them on for a roadside pee without having to take off my jacket and shirt. Whether I ride alone, with a group of women or a pack of guys, nature inevitably calls me. It’s awkward when your male friends take care of business and then have to stay up and wait for the only female on the ride to finish yours because you have to strip completely naked.

magnetic clasp for nature breaks

Photo c. Rapha

And in a race or on a large group outing, it’s even worse. Bibs that don’t pull down or come off hold women back. Struggling to dress on the side of the road is not only slow, it’s also embarrassing. With these bibs, the clasp is positioned at the bottom of the mesh upper where it is detachable with one hand – no undressing required.

Other cool features

women's compression leg gripper cycling shorts

the Removable shorts is soft, suitably compressive and super comfortable. The leg bands don’t go up, but there’s no sausage leg either. Minimal seam construction reduces both wrinkling and chafing. And, they dried quickly. Overall the shorts are well thought out and comfortable. What’s not to like?

Women's Removable Bib Shorts Colors Rapha

Available in three colors and in sizes XXS-XL, the women’s removable bib shorts sell for $290.

About Todd Wurtsbach

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